Thursday, December 16, 2010

JOEY FLY 2: PRIVATE EYE by Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman

Okay, so switchin' it up on the blog today. You know me, I'm all angsty teen drama. But today's Bookanista feature is *gasp* a graphic novel.

No lie.

JOEY FLY 2: PRIVATE EYE by Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman, to be exact. And dude, there's so much to love! Bugs! Adventure! Action! Even though this isn't the norm fr me, I really enjoyed this book. And I managed to get Aaron and Neil to answer my insane questions...


The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:
Aaron: A dramatic tarantula. A theatre company. A missing leading lady. A jealous gypsy moth. A snide stinkbug. Add suspense and poop jokes. Stir and enjoy. (WIN for the best twitter pitch. I mean, stirring poop? YES.)

What made you think, “Hmm, I think I’ll write a graphic novel?” Or “Hey, I want to illustrate a graphic novel?” (whichever applies)
Aaron: The first Joey Fly book actually started as a novel. It was my editor who looked at it and said “This is a graphic novel." I had written a graphic novel series before (Tiger Moth, Insect Ninja), so I was totally up for transforming this mystery series into a graphic novel.

Neil: I don’t think I was actively seeking out graphic novel illustration gigs when Aaron’s script for the first Joey Fly crossed my desk, but they offered it to me, and I wasn’t about to decline! I had only done a few comics up to that point, probably less than a total of ten pages, but I thought it’d be a fun challenge.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
Aaron: I’ve recently written Joey Fly #3: Haunted Housefly, which we hope will continue the series in a great way. I also have a new picture book coming out with Simon and Schuster called CREEPY CARROTS. It’s a mock-horror about a bunny who is convinced he’s being stalked by evil root vegetables. (Oh my heck. I'm in love with this. And not just because it's S&S...)

Neil: I’m working on a heavily illustrated chapter book right now. I used to be a reluctant reader, and now I want to reach out to that crowd. So, there are lots of cartoons, but also a dense story with a lot of colorful characters.


Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Aaron: Definitely not. But I always wanted to be CREATIVE. I started out in theatre, as an actor. That led to writing plays, directing videos and film, producing animations, and even a stint at cooking school thrown in there along the way for fun. All of this eventually led me to writing books for kids. Sometimes you don’t end up where you thought you would, which is the amazing and wonderful beauty of life, especially a creative life.

Neil: I always loved writing as a kid and got great feedback from teachers, but over the last decade I’ve just been trying to polish my illustration skills. I’m just now getting into writing again, and really happy to be doing it!

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?
Aaron: I was writing plays for kids and having success with that. And I loved kids’ books. One day I decided that I should try my hand at a kids’ book. The results were highly unpublish-worthy, but I loved the process and the writing itself. So I wrote another. And another. And another. Eventually, one of them was actually good enough to be published and things opened up from there.

Neil: Who wouldn’t want to be published?! (I know, right?) I was lucky enough in my early career that the publishers have found me. (I sort of hate you for this. Just sayin'. And come read tomorrow's post to find out exactly why...) I suppose that’s an advantage of being an artist as well.

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?
Aaron: Extra underwear.

Neil: Fire. (Well played, Numberman. Well played.)

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.
Aaron: I’m a bit of a World of Warcraft addict. (In my experience, there is no "bit" about it. ;))

Neil: I can balance a yardstick on my nose for well over ten minutes. (I have no comment for this.)

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate?
Aaron: Chocolate wrapped in bacon, please. (My new BFF!)

Neil: No bacon for me and I’m allergic to chocolate! (Oh, now this is just sad. My condolences.)

Aaron Reynolds is a human, not a bug, but he often writes about bugs. He is the author of Chicks and Salsa, Superhero School, Snowbots, and, of course, the Joey Fly, Private Eye graphic novels. Visit him at his website at

Neil Numberman is a termite currently residing in New York City. Joey Fly, Private Eye his first graphic novel series, but he is also the author/illustrator of the picture book Do NOT Build a Frankenstein. Stop by his website at

As if this wasn't the funnest post ever, you can get your own bug caricature drawn by Neil himself! In fact, a whole bunch of you can. I will be choosing 1 out of every 10 people who comment, and Neil will draw for YOU! Win.

So leave a comment. I mean, seriously, there's a vast array of possibilities. Poop stirring. Ruler balancing. Chocolate allergies. How Aaron didn't give up. Pick one. And then go pick up JOEY FLY 2: PRIVATE EYE. You won't be sorry.

Oh, and Aaron and Neil will be hovering around the blog today, so feel free to ask them questions!

And check out what the other Bookanistas are up to:
Kirsten Hubbard celebrates JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD and THE MOCKINGBIRDS
Beth Revis chimes in on CHIME
Lisa and Laura Roecker rave about BOOKS THEY’RE DYING TO READ
Carolina Valdez Miller looks ahead to JANUARY RELEASES
Bethany Wiggins fawns over Firelight

Jemi Fraser and Shari have already won their own bug caricature from Neil! Could you be next?


Emily White said...

Awesome interview, Elana! This has me dying to go out and buy JOEY FLY.

*crosses fingers to get picked to become a bug*

Theresa Milstein said...

This sounds like such a fun read. When I'm done with it, I'll let my kids have a chance with the book too.

Renae said...

Great interview! Can you imagine being allergic to chocolate? Looks like a great read!

Jemi Fraser said...

How have I not heard of these guys before??? I need to get this book for my classroom - the kids will LOVE it!!!

That twitter line is awesome! :)

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Great interview! Your added comments made it even more entertaining :)

The book sounds like a lot of fun to read!

Joanna St. James said...

Kewl interview, I feel like buying it for my toddler he will not get the whole story now but he will totally love me for it in a few years time.
I have a question, what is an illustrators life like - what would be your routine day if you are working on a project, do you have to sit with the authors, phone conferences or you just go by the story u have?

Shannon said...

Great interview, Elana! Looks like a fun read! Thanks!

If you have a chance, please swing by my blog - it's anonymous critique day!

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha, I thought I knew these guys! But you asked stuff I never would have dreamed of. I'm coming to you for questions the next time I need to do an interview. :)

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Love that answer--CREATIVE. Looks like it took a while to figure out what kind of creative.

And truly, that's an incredible Twitter pitch. Totally aweseome.

Shannon Schuren said...

This is why I follow your blog religiously. What a great interview! And I will definitely be looking for Creepy Carrots, as well as Joey Fly. Sounds a bit 'Bunnicula' which was one of my all-time fave reads as a kid.

Also, I cannot get the thought of bacon wrapped chocolate out of my head.

Anonymous said...


I'm sure Neil will answer your question in full detail, but I can tell you that Neil and I never get together to work. We don't talk on the phone or even e-mail about the book. He works completely from my manuscript that is given to him by our editor.

Thanks, everyone, for all the great comments. Keep 'em coming! I want to see YOU as a BUG!

And bugs and kisses to Elana for hosting us. We'll be buzzing around the blog for the next couple days, so let the comments and questions fly at will!

~Aaron Reynolds

LTM said...

How fun! I love the flies and termite drawings. Thanks, Elana! :D

Jenilyn Collings said...

This looks awesome! I have a son that would love these. Thanks for the recommendation--how could I not want to read this?

Shannon O'Donnell said...

My 8-year-old adores Fly Guy!!

Aaron and Neil, you guys are awesome! You have a true fan in my little guy!! :-)

Shari said...

I just want to go hang out with them. They do funny very well. I also want to read this book. And I am usually not interested in graphic novels. So, good job, Elana. And Aaron and Neil.

Jen said...

Poop stirring AND the chance to become a bug? Seriously. This is the best post evah :D

Super fun! Thanks Elana! Aaron and Neil, you guys rock. I'm going to have to hunt little Joe Fly down next time I'm haunting a bookstore!


neilnumberman said...

Hi folks,
Thanks for all the great comments!

@Joanna An average day as an illustrator has a lot of administrative work from 9-5. I don't get started on the art much until 6pm, or for instance, this morning, when I started a piece at 6am to finish before 9. It gets very difficult to CREATE while emailing, phone calls, etc. during the day.
As far as dealing with authors, Aaron said it correctly. We simply don't collaborate on the books, except through our editor. But I do spend a lot of time talking to her throughout the process, usually through email, sometimes in person (since we're both in NYC)

We'll be around if there are any more questions! And keep the comments comin', I'm ready to buggerize some people!

--Neil Numberman

Liza said...

Fun! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

This looks adorable!

Also, I don't care that I have no children, I will find an excuse to read Creepy Carrots. Because it sounds amazing.

Lisa_Gibson said...

Oh my gosh, superdeduper awesome interview. These guys are hilarious! Love the thought of a bunny thinking he's being stalked by root veggies. Frightening indeed. I think rutabagas have always been a suspect vegetable.
And just for the record that was poop jokes. I would avoid the actual poop. Of course, there could be dung beetles involved. :)
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks for the interview! I've always wanted to try a graphic novel.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview. The twitter pitch was so awesome. Hard to believe they accomplished so much with so few words.

Anonymous said...

Graphic novels are such brilliant things. Truly. Kids are reading. Isn't that the most important thing? We love the graphic novel at our home (and regular novels, too)!

Janet Johnson said...

How cool is that! I'd never heard of these . . . my boys will love them. Thanks for opening my eyes to the world of stirring poop. ;)

Jill Kemerer said...

My son would LOVE these books! Oh, who am I kidding, so would I. It's always motivating to read about creative passion, and this interview was chock full. Thank you!

Carolyn V. said...

Great, great interview and the book looks fantabulosous!!!

Ben Spendlove said...

Well, flies and poop go together. There's nothing like an insect that reproduces via something as disgusting as maggots are. Literature needs more protagonists like that.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Ben! So many protagonists are just so dang...human. Preach it, brotha.

~Aaron Reynolds

Bethany Wiggins said...

Elana, you could make a history textbook sound awesome! I must check this one out!!!

Heather said...

I haven't ventured into reading graphic novels yet but I've got to admit, you make them look pretty awesome. Looks like I'll have to check this one out!

Amie Kaufman said...

This sounds awesome! Must read, must read.

I would take extra underwear as well. They always give you fire in the end, but extra undies? Priceless.

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